Dad and I spent a week walking along the coast path from St Ives to Padstow. I’m not going to write a long story about this as it tends to get repetitive, so will confine myself to a few remarks and then leave it to the photos to tell the story…
We headed down to St Ives on bank holiday Monday, and I promptly wrenched my ankle walking along the station platform when we changed trains at St Erth. Ultimately, this led to me walking the whole week with my right ankle strapped up with a support bandage. It seemed to do the job.
We didn’t linger long in St Ives as we had a look around last year. So we fed and watered ourselves and got an early night ready for day 1.
Striking lucky with the weather, the whole week was warm and for the most part blue skies, the tone being set as we left St Ives. Day 1 was largely about circumnavigating St Ives Bay, with much roadside, railway side and creek-side walking. Only towards the end of the day did it get more interesting with the walk through the Towans (or dunes) to Gwithian.
The accommodation at Pencarrow Farm turned out to be the best of the whole trip, despite the mile plus walk inland (and uphill) to get to it. As is often the case on these trips, farmhouse B&B trumps the variety of pubs, standard B&Bs and converted garages (yes, really) that we’ve stayed in. To the extent that the phrase “That’s not farmhouse”, a quote from one farmer’s wife on the 2011 trip, has made it into the lexicon of this project, being used now generally to denote anything that is substandard. Pencarrow Farm definitely WAS farmhouse.
With the joy of a good overnight in our hearts, tinged with the sadness that the rest of the trip’s accommodation was highly unlikely to reach the same standards, we set forth for day 2 – a largely cliff-top jaunt to Portreath.
One of the highlights of the day, and trip, was watching the seals below us in a small rocky cove.
The Portreath Arms, obviously never had a chance to match the delights of the previous night’s farm, but it was clean and and at least on the coast path. We set off on the seemingly long walk to Perranporth…
Perranporth saw us with beachside accommodation, but a seemingly quiet stay then turned noisy at chucking-out time. We were glad to get on our way for day 4 – to Newquay, scene of numerous family holidays in the ’70s. Today could have been the shortest or longest day’s walk, depending totally on the point at which we cross the Gannel. We did ok, crossing at a low point and then walking upstream to the footpath into town.
We rocked up at the Griffin Inn, and it looked a lot nicer than I feared when I made the booking. Unfortunately, the shower was only capable of pouring out water the temperature of molten lava. And no breakfast until 9am, which we managed to beat slightly due only to the threatening presence of a hungry wedding party standing around in reception. Breakfast itself was good, but I can’t understand why they insist on serving you cereal and juice, and the inevitable wait that involves. This was certainly not farmhouse!
Newquay disappeared behind us, and we weren’t sad to see the back of it. The town’s gone downhill a lot since I was a kid.
Coffee, another critical SWCP ritual about an hour and a half or 4 miles into the day’s walk, was taken on the beach at Watergate Bay.
Day 5 seemed like a bit of a slog, not helped by a mile of uphill to tonight’s accommodation – another “farm”. Well, actually it turned out to be a children’s play area and petting animals, with a campsite attached. The accommodation though was great – a big room, decent shower (much welcomed after Newquay) – it was only spoiled by two things. First the hobble to the pub where the chef proceeded to serve us a pair of cremations whilst insisting they were medium rare. This did mean this turned out to be the cheapest eat out of the trip though, after the money we got off the bill. Second, we had such high hopes for breakfast, but it was really disappointing – slow to come and of mediocre quality. A missed opportunity.
We sallied forth for the last day, and headed up onto the cliffs one more time.
The delights of Padstow were sampled in the form of rock and ice cream, knowing there would be an opportunity next year for more. We hopped on the bus to Bodmin ready for a timely train home the next morning. Roscrea B&B in Bodmin was a quirky but friendly place, and we’ll consider staying there again next year if the logistics make it sensible.
And so we creep up the north coast of Cornwall, the end of the walk now only 2 long or 3 short sections remaining…